Sometimes your symptoms may get worse very quickly. This is
called sudden heart failure or a flare-up. It causes fluid to build up in your lungs, causing
congestion. (This is why the problem is often called congestive heart
failure.) Symptoms may include:
Severe shortness of breath.
An irregular or fast heartbeat.
Coughing up foamy, pink mucus.
Sudden heart failure is an emergency.
You need care right away.
Heart failure is a condition in which the heart can't pump blood effectively to the lungs or the rest of the body.
This can be because the person has developed a weakened heart muscle or because the heart muscle has thickened, making it difficult to fill the heart and backing up blood into the lungs.
With heart failure, the weakened heart pumps less blood than usual, causing the kidneys and adrenal glands to produce chemicals that help the body to hold onto salt and water.
In addition, the blood...
A flare-up is different than heart failure that gets worse
slowly. With a flare-up, your symptoms change much more quickly. It may happen
if you have a high-salt meal, forget your medicines, get an irregular
heartbeat, or have a problem like
anemia, an infection, or a fever.
You may have to stay in the hospital to fix the problem. Some
flare-ups may take several days to control.
After treatment, your symptoms will probably go back to the way they
were before the flare-up.
Treatment for a flare-up
When you arrive at the hospital or emergency room, the doctor
will prescribe medicines such as diuretics, nitrates, and/or morphine. These
will help you breathe more easily and control your pain or anxiety. You also
may get oxygen.
will try to find the cause of your flare-up and treat it. For example, you may
have eaten a salty meal the night before that caused your body to
hold onto extra water and make your symptoms worse. Or the
cause may be harder to find.
the flare-up is controlled, your doctor may change the doses or types of
medicine you take.
In some cases, you may go
from the hospital to a rehabilitation (or rehab) center. The staff members are
specially trained to support people with heart failure. They can help
you with diet and lifestyle changes.
Primary Medical Reviewer
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Robert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
August 5, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 05, 2010
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